IN-PERSON is a podcast series that tells the stories behind the world's most daring events and the people who make them happen.

Music by Winesap.

 

GUEST SUBMISSIONS
By Industry
By Topic
By Role
feather_search

26 | Monique Ruff-Bell, Money 20/20: Making Big Events Feel Small and Supporting Women in Leadership

  • December 18, 2019
  • 36:35

Monique Ruff-Bell (Events Director at Money20/20) discusses Cannes Lions, growing your career with mentors and sponsors, how to make big events feel small, supporting women in leadership and speaking roles, and singing karaoke around the globe.

You can also listen on these platforms:

Top Takeaways

1

FINDING YOUR SPONSOR: As Monique moved up in her career within event marketing, her big "Ah Ha" moment came when she found her career sponsor. A sponsor differs from a mentor in that a sponsor has a vested interest in your success—helping you access key projects, roles, and companies you may not otherwise access. “Your sponsor is the person that's helping to move your career along. They're actually putting in the work to bring you up within that company or within your career.”

2

MAKING BIG EVENTS FEEL SMALL: It can be a challenge to not overwhelm attendees at conferences or trade shows where there are thousands of people and multiple session and speaker tracks. A big initiative at Money20/20 is "making big events feel small" by creating persona-based content tracks and complimentary activations that offer unique experiences to each attendee. To do this, Monique's team works to answer important questions like, “What are we doing to create these bite-sized opportunities for our attendees? How are we helping them organically connect with each other other than us just forcing the issue?”

3

CLOSING THE GENDER GAP THROUGH EVENTS: Monique and the events leadership team noticed something interesting at Money 20/20: not many speaker applications were coming from women. To close the gap, they put together the Rise Up program to give women resources to move into leadership roles within their companies and actively seek speaking and panelist spots at events. Monique’s advice in helping event organizers and other women overcome professional obstacles is, “Celebrate your wins...There's always a struggle about something, there's always a challenge, so when you get it over the mark and you're successful with it, you need to marinate in that a little bit more.“

ABOUT Monique Ruff-Bell

With over 20 years of event production, marketing management and media experience, Monique has consistently launched successful revenue-driving programs and events. In her past positions, she has created integrated experiential programs, increased new and existing customer sales and improved brand and product development, including elevating communication and business strategies, for conferences, tradeshows, meetings and events.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

I'm so excited to be sitting here chatting with you. We had a chance earlier to meet and chat over at the Money20/20 essential office. That was very fun. I always like to start off, if anybody's listening to the podcast, I typically start off with a really technical, really challenging question that sort of throws our guests off balance a little bit.

MONIQUE:

I'm ready.

BRANDON:

I think it's important. I understand, Monique, that in some circles you're known as the Karaoke Queen.

MONIQUE:

Or what I like to say, the Queen Of Karaoke.

BRANDON:

The Queen of karaoke.

MONIQUE:

That's right. That's me.

BRANDON:

You've performed in multiple venues.

MONIQUE:

I'm worldwide.

BRANDON:

You're worldwide.

MONIQUE:

I'm worldwide.

BRANDON:

What's your go-to song?

MONIQUE:

Before we start there, Brandon-

BRANDON:

Okay, please.

MONIQUE:

As the Queen of Karaoke-

BRANDON:

Please.

MONIQUE:

I have to say, I have some people in this room who've experienced this with me. Friends who would rather take a knife and stab it in their eyeball than watch me sing. And then I had many friends like the ones in the back who cheer me on and I do karaoke. I tried to do karaoke wherever I go. So around the world. I've done it in Bali, I've done it in Italy, I've done it in France. I always do it in New York. So come see me—headliner. My go-to song is Prince When Doves Cry, I mean I got the movement, the whole...

BRANDON:

Wow.

MONIQUE:

It's the thing.

BRANDON:

Fantastic. So I think we actually have this song if we could...

MONIQUE:

Oh boy.

BRANDON:

No, it looks like they don't have it. Pull it up.

MONIQUE:

I was ready, I can turn it on.

BRANDON:

I wish that'd be the first. An IN-PERSON Podcast karaoke, which would be pretty funny. Oh, okay. Now that we've kind of really discovered how you are creating these really lively in person experiences through performance. Let's talk about Money 20/20 a little bit. Then we'll get to background for a second, too. So Money 20/20 right now, what are the main initiatives there and how do your responsibilities currently align with those?

MONIQUE:

Okay. So Money 20/20 is basically one of the largest payments, financial services and FinTech events that's based in the USA. It happens every October in Las Vegas. Not only do we have Money 20/20 in the USA, but we have a Money 20/20 in Europe and we have a Money 2020 in Asia, so I happened to manage the one that's in the USA for thousands of attendees.

It's a pretty big show and one of the responsibilities is, "how do we bring an entire ecosystem within payments, financial services and FinTech to one show and service them entirely?" So not only them but the service providers as well. We really have to think about, "how do you structure a show that big that you can give the core component to each of those different sectors?" What we do is we kind of think about, "how do you make a big show feel small."

We also think about, we have these fortune 500 companies to small startups to startups who are now unicorns with billions of dollars. How do we service them and make sure that they're connecting with the right people that they need to connect with. We are really trying to kind of be that connector for the industry and bringing that entire ecosystem together.

It takes a lot to do that, but we've been around, we're going into our ninth year. We just finished our eighth year. All of the power players are there, all of the big banks, what we call the insurgents, so the Facebooks and the Amazons and the Googles, anyone that touches money. So if you move, borrow, save, innovate money, you're coming to Money 20/20.

BRANDON:

It's been going for eight years strong going into tonight.

MONIQUE:

Going into its ninth year and to put on a show of that size, I have a team of 22, but on site we bring in about a team of a hundred to execute a show like that. I have some great professional event production team members who really put this show together and I'm more like the conductor. I was calling myself the conductor of a really great orchestra of making sure all of these components are happening as well as I have P&L responsibilities. So now to make sure we making that money too.

BRANDON:

We're going to talk about what you mentioned in terms of the audience that you're speaking to, how you're making that larger event feel small and feel really deliberate for those attendees that come to Money 20/20? But before we dive into that, I will have to do a little bit more background. I just read this bio and I think it was a pretty well-written bio, but just to provide a little bit more context. You were a director of conferences at Haymarket Media, you managed your own consulting company for some time.

You've also led event programs at a variety of associations and networks. Looking at all of that, if we go back a little bit in time, where did you kind of get your entrance into events and how did each of these steps in your career lead to where we are right now?

MONIQUE:

I've been in the events industry for 20 years, so my entire career has either been in promotions or live events. When you're back at 12 years old, you never think, "Oh, I'm going to grow up to run conferences for a living." Nobody does that.

BRANDON:

I don't know as anybody done that?

MONIQUE:

I don't think so. I don't see any hands here. And so you basically kind of fall into this industry some way or somehow you just kind of start doing something and then you just kind of grow in that. But when I was in college, I didn't really think about where I wanted to go next.

I was like, I want to do marketing. I randomly closed my eyes, picked an internship, and it was at this media and events company. When I joined it, the first thing they said was, "Oh, we want you to beg for money." What does that mean? And they were like, you're going to be a sponsorship coordinator. And I was like, this is my first job. What do I have to do to get someone to give me $25,000 I have no idea.

That was my first job and I actually made the quota of, Oh yeah, Whoa. It was "Whoa!" to me too of getting that and then just kind of seeing the other production components within that company. I was like, Hey, I think maybe, this is something I would like to do. Fast forward, I have done Sponsorship Coordination. I have been a meeting, an incentive planner, I have been an event marketer, I have been in logistics and the operation manager and I have been a content manager, so I've done every single job in events that you can do.

My sweet spot became content management because I'm really nosy and I like research and following trends and things like that and so I just said, "okay, I'll just kind of stick with this trajectory." And then about seven years ago I got really intentional and serious about my career. I was like, "okay, I've been doing all of this stuff with an event or whatever. Where do I see myself kind of ending up?"

And I started to participate in a lot of experiential events and one of them was Cannes Lions and I don't know if you're familiar with that Festival Of Creativity based in the South Of France. And I would go there and I was like, "you know what? I think I want to do this. I want to run a show like this." And that was seven years ago, and I was like, what do I have to do to get to that?

I was really lucky that I had someone in my company who became my sponsor, not mine, just my mentor, my sponsor. There are two different things, right? So your mentor is giving you advice, patting you on the shoulder, you can do it. Your sponsor is the person that's helping to move your career along. They're actually putting in the work to bring you up within that company or within your career.

So I actually had a male sponsor who took me with him to four jobs every time he moved up and he moved up each job. Every time he moved up, he moved me up and I would go up and do a job with him. And every time I would move I would say, well, I want to do this and I want to learn this and I want to participate in this. And P&L Management is really big.

I need to learn how to run a P&L and he would do it. He would figure out a way for me to have those responsibilities. And then when we got to the fourth one I said, "I think I'm done. We're good. I think I'm ready to move on to the next one." And the next one happened to be Money 20/20 because I got very intentional and strategic about where I wanted to end my career with. And I always say, and this is a little controversial, that doing a good job only gets you more work.

BRANDON:

What? Oh, hold on. What?

MONIQUE:

Just doing a good job, just gets you more work.

BRANDON:

That's crazy.

MONIQUE:

Yeah. If you're not being very strategic about not just doing a good job, about where do you want to go? Who you need to connect with? What do you need to learn? And how do you need to enhance your skillset? Only thing you'll ever get is more work. When you're going to college, are you going to school and you get those A's.

You're thinking, that's what you're supposed to do. I get the A's, I'm rewarded for that. But that's not how business works. You have to really get serious and get really connected and really figure out what does it take to get to plan B and let me learn what that is, so I have to do a good job, but I also have to learn these different things. That's kind of what I started to get really, really serious about my career and I am with Money 20/20 but guess what? Who is owned by Ascential PLC and guess what essential PLC owns? Cannes Lions. I actually work on the Cannes Lions' program as well. So full circle.

BRANDON:

Full circle. There are several things here that really stand out to me. One is sort of this inciting moment of going to Cannes lions and you're this like, wow, this is it. This is what I want to do. And from that moment really being deliberate in your career path. I think the other thing too that really stands out is having that sponsor and that distinction between a mentor and a sponsor. We want to have our careers, we really want to have a mentor. But understanding that fulfills one role. And having somebody who's going to step out and support you is-

MONIQUE:

I got to be honest, sometimes it's really hard for a woman. I'm going to go into the woman thing. Sometimes it's really hard for a woman to step out of just thinking, I'm going to be noticed because I'm doing a good job. Right? So you have to be really intentional about who in this company is doing what I'm doing or looking to who needs my help or help to accelerate in certain areas that I can play a bigger part in that. That's what I had with my sponsor.

We were a really great team. There were great things that he was good at and there were some things, he wasn't that I picked up the slack in and so we really just kind of really worked well together. So he knew when he was going to these other companies to build their events business. He would bring me along because he knew what he was good at it and he knew what I was good at and we made a really good team, but I always was very intentional about if I'm going to go with this dude and learn all of this stuff, I'm going to get something out of it as well and I'm going to learn that the skills that I need to learn so that I can jump up within my career and that's exactly how it happened.

BRANDON:

We're going to talk a little bit about, some of the programs that Money 20/20 and Ascential are putting forward to sort of help women get more leadership opportunities, but right now, let's take a moment to look at making Money 20/20 feel smaller, more intimate. We already talked about the thousands of attendees that are there. We mentioned that it's like anybody who's in the financial industry, they're going to be there. With that in mind, I know that there are several personas that you and your team have created in order to have a better understanding. Could we review those real quick?

MONIQUE:

When you come to a show that's thousands and thousands of attendees, it can become a very overwhelming experience for the attendee and it can becoming a very overwhelming experience for the event team as well because you're trying to figure out how can I please all of these people. What we did was we really kind of took a step back and started to do research and because everybody sends out surveys and all of that good stuff.

So just looking back at the data from the surveys and really kind of breaking down what are the personas that we're dealing with who are coming to our shows and after we kind of really dig deep into the data we figured out, and it's not anything that's groundbreaking here, but that we have three types of attendees at our shows. You have a learner, you have a networker, you have a mixed and what does that mean is, they have three different types of components to those three personas.

As a networker. That's more of your C-suite, high level attendee. They're there to connect. They're there to find business or they're there to meet new partners or they're there to hear about the latest innovation in a more one-to-one fashion. We knew we had to create many programs, more intimate close door sessions as well as a lot of different networking opportunities onsite that could feed into the networker persona.

Then you have the learner, you have the learner who's there 100% to hear what's the latest announcements, what's the latest tech that's coming down the pike? What are the latest trends that are going on because they want to take those learnings back to their office and implement them immediately. You have to kind of structure your event that you're servicing that component and then you have the mix and most of your events you're going to have about most of your attendees who are going to be mixed.

I would say ours is about 49% who are mixed. They want to network as well as they want to learn. So what's the core of that? Ease. You want to create the opportunity for them to find the content they need to find an easy way and you need to create the networking opportunities that they can find in an easy way, and then take out that awkwardness when it comes to trying to network with each other.

And that's, I know we'll probably get in a little bit deeper with that and that's what we have with our matchmaking platform and so we really thought about those three areas and what we wanted to do with that and we really kind of went gung-ho and making sure that we were servicing those three personas and it really helped with each of those personas really understanding that we were really about the customer experience for them.

BRANDON:

With Money 20/20 in particular, were you using any sort of systems or processes in order to identify what percentage of people might make up a specific group?

MONIQUE:

We would ask.

BRANDON:

Just ask.

MONIQUE:

We would say, do you like X, Y, Z? And if they did, we were like, okay. They probably fall into more of the networker category. What was really good about Money 20/20 is that they did keep, before I joined, their survey, the results. They really did try to always dig deeper into the delegate experience and trying to figure out and making sure they're asking certain questions of that delegate and we would get a lot of great feedback. So it was really helpful for us to kind of be able to put these attendees in those buckets so we can figure out how to enhance our customer experience onsite.

BRANDON:

When it comes to engaging these different personas. I know that your team came up with five stories or themes to sort of direct the content and experience. Could you share with us a little bit more about the ideation process behind that and what they are?

MONIQUE:

We're servicing an entire ecosystem: payments, FinTech, financial services. Those people all have different learning needs. Instead of us putting 11 themes together, this one is for the bank game. This is for the AI, this is for the payments track. We were like, what are some of the key trends affecting the entire ecosystem? We had our content team go out and they were speaking to some of our past speakers, some of our delegates to really say, "Hey, kind of what some of your pain points?" And there was these five key stories that came out of all of that work. One was that everyone is being affected by commercial models and the M&A activity.

Everyone's being affected by product strategy and design, everyone's being affected by cybersecurity, everyone's being affected by AI, blockchain, and the cloud. Everyone's being affected by coming up with innovation. Instead of us sitting there and coming up with just 11 themes, we be like, okay, we know these five stories are trending within our marketplace.

Let's make sure that we have content that addresses those key things and we actually named each of our stages after each of those themes. So it was easier for people to find. It became a compass for our delegates to find the right type of content that they needed to hear. We have over 500 speakers, 220 sessions. It's a lot of content out there for you, so it was really helpful to kind of put it into this more of a bite-sized format for people to kind of find the learnings that they really needed.

BRANDON:

In addition to that, you also created a whole entire program for C-suite attendees who had been coming to the event for years, but this time around you decided to create this custom beginning to end experience for them. How did that differ from some of the content or the experience of the other attendees who are going through these different stages?

MONIQUE:

We have major power players coming to the show. We have CEOs of all of the major banks on the C-suite of all of these big companies. Everybody has great C-suite. That probably comes to their event, but when you see them kind of walking the show floor or you don't see them walking the exhibit hall floor, it's because they're always on, right? People are always approaching them. People always want their attention.

They can never just sit there and relax and learn really because they're always expected to give this talk or to always be on and give this information to someone who wants to partner with and get to know them, connect with them. We noticed that and so what we wanted to do was we want to create this closed-door form just for them where they can be in the same room with their peers and they can turn off.

So we actually call it CEO unplugged. It's a way for them to kind of come in, learn what a person at that particular level is dealing with, learn from each other as well as we took them off-site to do some fun networking opportunities. So we did race, car driving, they did this whole wine tasting, so we really made it a fun experience for them for two days. Now we're not going to keep their attention fully for two days. That's one of the learnings that we learned from putting on this show, but when they were there and they were participating in it, they absolutely loved the fact that they can share and debate and they were debating with each other over some key issues of the industry in a safe space.

BRANDON:

I am very impressed with how you and your team are iterating on feedback, not only from surveys which are going out on a daily basis, but also little things like for instance at the help desk.

MONIQUE:

Our core is the customer experience. Yes, people come because they feel like all of their clients are there, so sometimes they feel like they have to be there, but we want to make it feel like you want to be there and have a memorable experience. One of the things is how can we solve any issues that may arise quicker than just waiting till something post-show?

One of the things that we used to do is we used to do this very winded survey at the end of the show that was like 45 questions that nobody would probably want to answer. I know I didn't, how was your experience? How was this blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so we decided this year that we were going to scrap that and really just kind of get immediate feedback. So every day at the end of whatever networking event that we had, we would send out a daily survey.

They would just ask certain key questions, we would get feedback every day and some of that stuff was stuff that we could solve overnight the next day and implement that. And then we did our NPS survey, which is extremely important to us and how we are measured internally at the end of the fourth day, like two hours at the end of the show so that everything is fresh in their mind and our response rate jumped up from just doing that change.

One of the other things was, we use a platform called Slido and in Slido you can get feedback on each of your sessions and from your speakers immediately after the completion of that session. So, we have so much going on. It was really good to kind of see how we're trending with our sessions. And we would sometimes get feedback about the session about, Oh, the speakers aren't necessarily getting too in-depth.

So I would talk to my content team and say, "Hey, go remind all of the speakers for the next day that they have to dig a little bit deeper than what they're doing now." And then I would every day at the end of the day get a request of what was every single question asked at the info desk. I would review all of those questions. I would see what are the trends and what are the things that we can implement and solve for the next day. And we would do that. We were always about the customer experience and receiving as much information as we could to make those changes immediately.

BRANDON:

I love that idea. Finding different ways to make it easier for your attendees to give feedback. We want to hear it. And so any sort of shortcuts you can find, and again that info desk approach is this, who would have thought that you go to an info desk, you ask a question, this is an issue you're running into. Someone gives you an answer. Okay, cool. That's the end of it, but you were-

MONIQUE:

No, we did and one of the examples was, I can't find X was one of the things and I saw a couple of people asking that same question so the next day we were able to immediately put a signage or an Ask Me person in that area so that it made it easier for that and then you saw that go away as a question.

BRANDON:

It's Agile Event Production.

MONIQUE:

Agility. It's all about agility.

BRANDON:

Agility, there we go. I know another thing that's kind of distinct about Money 20/20 is the fact that we've had eight years of it. There are people who are coming to this event year after year and they're expecting a particular experience. They're expecting to be surprised in some ways as well. How do you continue to delight them and keep them coming back?

MONIQUE:

It is all about surprise and delight. You have a lot of people who are there to do their four months of meetings in four days and to just be the connection, but you do want to keep it fresh because, our NPS score matters to us and so that is all based on customer feedback and so we have to make sure that yeah, they might feel like they have to be there sometimes but that they enjoy their experience there.

Really kind of thinking about how can we make sure that we're getting the right trends on our stages. Our submission process is bananas. To be honest, we have 220 sessions for this year. A lot of that is created by editorial or content team and creating that, but we do a submission process and we had over like 1200 submissions come in just for 200 slots, constant phone calls, constant emails.

It's a very overwhelming experience. People want to speak on our stages. It says really talking about, if you have some of these great power players who want to come and speak at this stage, you have to make sure that they're bringing something new and different. Right? And sometimes, to be honest, innovation is not always happening in the USA, innovation is really kind of coming from Asia right now for us within this particular space.

And so making sure that we are bringing those people from the other countries to kind of speak about what's working and that we are bringing people who are going to showcase something different and new, not the same old talk. Another thing, like I said, it's the connections aspect. We really have to create ease on how we can create connections for people. And one of them is through our matchmaking platform.

We actually have a matchmaking web platform that we open up a couple of months before the show and attendees can go on there and see who's coming and then they can also request meetings with those people. And not only that, we actually say you're going to come to the PayPal lounge at table 101 at 10:15 and you're going to meet together. So we give them all of that opportunity to do that. That is easy. And then that migrates into our app.

So they already have all of those meetings they've already set because these people are setting up meetings four months in advance of our show because there's so many people for them to meet. I had one attendee who said he had 127 meetings in four days. He's just constant, constant, constant. And so if you know you have attendees like that, you have to create an ease for them to do it.

And then, it's all about how are we enhancing the onsite experience for our customers? How are we making it joyful, how we're making fun. It's a financial conference. So, sometimes that could be a little bit boring for some people. So we always bring an experiential element to a lot of the stuff that we do. We have a lot of celebrities who speak on our stages as well because they're investing their VCs investing within startups.

And so we had Shaquille O'Neal, we have Akon, we had all of those. We have Richard Branson there, we have Steve Wozniak. So those people who are investing in innovative companies are, they're speaking on our stages. And so, and also we have the meet and greets with some of them as well. We really do think about how can we make it not only a great learning environment, but a fun environment?

BRANDON:

I know another thing that you do in order to create a more intimate experience for all the attendees there is the idea of these communities. You created nine communities, each of which was very specific and provided a smaller opportunity for folks to connect.

MONIQUE:

We call them meetups and everybody knows what a meetup is, right? And one of the things that you have to do with a meetup is not make it a session. You don't need someone to sit there and just talk at people. Whatever a meetup is for you to connect and have these one-to-one or very intimate conversations with each other. What we wanted to do was kind of make it fun, fun meetups.

So we came up with Women Who Lead, we came up Regulation Connection and some really fun names and a blockchain party and all of this other stuff. And these were a couple of meetups that we would host every day outside of just the regular content where people would come, because we have all of these great C-suite people who are attending, who have all of this thought leadership and they're not on our stages all the time.

So it's a great way for peers to share with each other about what they're seeing in these particular areas. And then we would have a beach ball at these meetups and you would kind of bounce around the beach ball and wherever it landed, that was the person that gets to talk about that topic and share their ideas. So it was fun and it was really an intimate opportunity.

It's something that we always look to do is, how can we make a big show feel small? What are we doing to create these bite-sized opportunities for our attendees, for them to organically connect with each other, other than us just kind of forcing the issue? We have pool parties, we have parties within our exhibit hall area. We have an industry night where we bring the celebrity performers, so this year we had Robin Thicke. Last year we had Neo, T-Pain, all of that good stuff, so just making fun elements that we can bring where people can kind of bump into each other and just have these really great conversations.

BRANDON:

Let's talk about women in leadership and the Rise Up program in particular. We don't have too much time left, so I want to make sure.

MONIQUE:

She keeps giving us the "five minutes" sign.

BRANDON:

Yeah, come on. Plus five minutes.

MONIQUE:

I still got more to talk about.

BRANDON:

Rise up. As we talked about women in leadership is really important to you. On a personal level. It's also really important Money20/20 and Ascential. Could you tell us about this program and how it was created and what have been some of the results from it?

MONIQUE:

With financial services, it's more male-dominated, right? And so when we're looking at these submissions, we're getting nothing but men submitting to speak on our stages. And even when they were putting panels suggestions together, they never had a woman. And the suggestion, what's really interesting about Money 20/20 is my president is a woman and then all of the event directors are women.

So we do kind of notice when there's not a lot of us roaming around in the show. My president made this a very important initiative for her. I was, how are we going to bring more women into our program as speakers and participating in Money 20/20 and so we created this incubator program called Rise Up. And basically, it was our way to say, okay, let's give these women some tools and tips and tricks so that they would be more comfortable and have more confidence to submit to the program.

And then when we opened up the submission process, something really interesting happened. We started seeing this trend and some of the comments from the women that was, "I feel I'm alone, I feel like I'm the only one, I'm misunderstood, I don't have a tribe of women, it's really hard for me to find a sponsor or a mentor. I'm really trying to figure out leadership in my company." It's really hard.

And we had to take a step back and say, this is bigger than us. There are, a lot of women who still don't have a seat at the table at their company and so we need to kind of give them some mentors that maybe we could connect them to, we need to give them some leadership training and we need to give them a toolkit that they can take back to their network and their colleagues on leadership and how they can kind of create this tribe and kind of learn from each other and kind of know that they're not alone.

When we started to switch our thinking about that, it literally blew up. Our Academy is only for 30 to 35 women and it's a closed-door program over the four days. When we first opened the submissions for the USA and we do this in Asia and Europe as well, we had 500 women participate in a submission process. We thought we wanted a hundred, we weren't just blown away by how many people were interested in that.

And out of the three events for the one year that we've done it, we've had almost 1,600 women submit four spots that are only 30 to 35. We can see that there's just a lot of women who are still trying to have a seat at the table and it's been a really good initiative for us. And one of the things I want to kind of call out is PayPal because they are the only company in the USA that have pay equality—the only one. They invested three million dollars in order to do that.

I have a video with an interview with Dan Schulman on the Money 20/20 LinkedIn page where we kind of talk about that because there is a 19% pay gap for women within financial services across the board. 19% there are other companies who are trying to put themselves at the forefront of trying to change that narrative. Being a part of the Rise Up program, partnering with us on the Rise Up program gives them the opportunity to find future leaders because a lot of these women, boy, they will blow you away.

They are truly leaders within this industry. You can showcase kind of what you're doing to try to change this narrative that is in industry and also just kind of put forth effort and resources to these women as well. So it's been really successful for us. It really took off.

I'm truly passionate about it. I don't know if you could tell, I feel like we are still struggling with having a seat at the table and we are still struggling with finding people who are sponsors for us, not just mentors. It's really great that the program that we put together, we do match up people with mentors and a lot of them are men, not just women.

BRANDON:

And the results have been great for the program as well.

MONIQUE:

Absolutely. So our first cohort for Vegas, one-third of them have been promoted into senior positions and they attributed to being in the Rise Up program.

BRANDON:

That's amazing. Yeah, that's a round of applause there. What's one piece of advice you would give to some of your peers here today who are looking to maybe launch a similar program?

MONIQUE:

My advice is that we need to celebrate our wins more. I think one of the things that when you're the event business, you're always onto the next. You are always just trying to figure out how to improve and be better and all that good stuff and you put a lot of work into doing this because nothing goes perfect in events, nothing.

Something always falls through, something always happens. There's always a struggle about something, there's always a challenge, so then when you get it over the mark and you're successful with it, you need to kind of marinate in that a little bit more. We all do instead of us just moving onto the next one because you're going to need this to put this in the back of your mind so that when you are struggling for the next thing, you can remember how good you did and you can feel like you got this and I think that's one of the things that we need to do more of it celebrate our wins.

BRANDON:

Resilience and leadership. I know this is something that's really, really important to you. Can you tell us about your thoughts on it?

MONIQUE:

Next month I'm doing a TED-style talk on resilience and one of the things that being in events, it's like I said, it's definitely not for those who like perfectionism because that doesn't exist in events. You have to have this level of grit about you because you have to have the flexibility to move on from something pretty quickly instead of kind of marinate in those emotions that you're going to have.

And the struggle and the frustration of things. My mantra is "be the seven C's" and what the seven C's are is what I repeat to myself and I have some of my team members here so they're going to hear this talk next month. This is my mantra. I am competent, I am confident, I have character, I am well connected, I will cope, I can do this, I have control.

Those are the things that when I'm... I have to step back from myself, because I'm being overwhelmed by a particular situation. I have to say that to myself and kind of get these shoulders up and feel better and have that resilience to kind of move on. You can't always marinate in the bad. You have to get to the good and so that's going to take some talking to yourself in order to do that pretty quickly.

BRANDON:

Who's someone you look up to in business?

MONIQUE:

My icon is Ursula Burns. I don't know how many people who are familiar with her, but she was the CEO of Xerox company and she was the first African American CEO and that was recently in 2009 of a Fortune 500 company. Just following her career, she isn't a very authentic person. I don't know if you could tell, but I'm like this here, I'm like this at home, I'm like this at work. This is me all the way, and so what I like about Ursula is that she had to bring a brand back to life and she did that being 100% herself.

She didn't follow the old boys network CEO playbook about anything. She knew what she wanted to do. She brought her voice to the table and she turned that business around and it's really one of those people that I like to follow for the simple fact that I want to continue and always be authentic and everything that I do and everywhere that I speak at so that people could know. People who look like me, people who talk like me, people who think like me can still move up within their career.

BRANDON:

Amazing. That's our time. I think we might've burned through the imaginary time. Yeah. Thank you so much Monique.